Naturalised Birds - Brief Review
Naturalised Birds by Sir Christopher Lever Christopher Helm 2006 ISBN: 0713670061 £40
This is a fascinating book on a fascinating topic by the well-known writer on ecology and history, Christopher Lever and is a much revised edition of his earlier work . It is not a book I had previously come across and its sheer scope alone would be impressive but it is the detail that interests us most and is there in abundance. I for one had no idea just how wide spread deliberate or accidental introductions have been nor how many different species had been spread around the world.
I was, of course, aware of some notable naturalisations in the UK with my own entertaining local population of Ring-necked Parakeets sometimes showing off in my garden and a daily occurrence screeching overhead. I knew too of historical introductions such as Canada Geese, Ruddy Duck and Little Owl, and even Common Pheasant as much as 1000 years ago. Having visited several times
I was also aware how the British deliberately introduced many bird species to New Zealand to make them feel at home. I have also come across a few species on my travels clearly in the wrong avifaunal zone… not to speak of the world conquering, feral pigeon, house sparrow and starling. But this work reveals that hundreds of species have established themselves, sometimes in dozens of places where they are not native. This exceptional work give us chapter and verse and even looks at what threat they pose to other species or agriculture etc. As yet I have only dipped into the volume looking up naturalised birds I am aware of but I am sure to visit it again and again.
It is clearly too late to do much about this interference with nature but we should at least learn the lesson of history and stop repeating these mistakes.